Skip over navigation

Recent PLAS Faculty Publications (2010–2014)

Rubén Gallo

Proust's Latin Americans, Johns Hopkins University Press (2014)


Part biography, part cultural history, part literary study, Rubén Gallo's book explores the presence of Latin America in Proust's life and work. The novelist lived in an era shaped by French colonial expansion into the Americas: just before his birth, Napoleon III installed Maximilian as emperor of Mexico, and during the 1890s France was shaken by the Panama Affair, a financial scandal linked to the construction of the canal in which thousands of French citizens lost their life savings.

It was in the context of these tense Franco–Latin American relations that the novelist met the circle of friends discussed in Proust's Latin Americans: the composer Reynaldo Hahn, Proust’s Venezuelan lover; Gabriel de Yturri, an Argentinean dandy; José-Maria de Heredia, a Cuban poet and early literary model; Antonio de La Gandara, a Mexican society painter; and Ramon Fernandez, a brilliant Mexican critic turned Nazi sympathizer.

Gallo discusses the correspondence—some of it never before published—between the novelist and this heterogeneous group and also presents insightful readings of In Search of Lost Time that posit Latin America as the novel’s political unconscious. Proust’s speculation with Mexican stocks informed his various fictional passages devoted to financial transactions, and the Panama Affair shaped his understanding of the conquest of America in a little-known early text.

Proust's Latin Americans will be of interest to scholars of modernism, French literature, Proust studies, gender studies, and Latin American studies.

Kelly C. Baum (Art Museum)

Nobody's Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000-2010 (Princeton University Art Museum Series), Princeton University Art Museum (2010)

Nobody's Property book cover
This generously illustrated volume surveys a new chapter in the history of environmental art, one in which space, geopolitics, human relations, urbanism, and utopian dreamwork play as important a role as, if not more than, raw earth. Discussed are case studies by seven artists and two artist teams—Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Francis Al˙s, Yael Bartana, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Emre Hüner, Andrea Geyer, Matthew Day Jackson, Lucy Raven, and Santiago Sierra. While some of these artists explore historical and symbolic configurations of space, others parse the social, legal, and economic conditions of specific land-sites, including the Navajo Nation, the island of Vieques, the border town of Juarez, and the cities of Tongling, Jerusalem, and Beirut. Not confined to the displacement of matter, these artists employ a wide range of media, such as performance, animation, assemblage, and photography.

Joăo Biehl (Anthropology)

Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment, With a New Preface, with Torben Eskerod (Photographer) University of California Press; 2 edition, 2012

Vita book cover
Zones of social abandonment are emerging everywhere in Brazil's big cities--places like Vita, where the unwanted, the mentally ill, the sick, and the homeless are left to die. This haunting, unforgettable story centers on a young woman named Catarina, increasingly paralyzed and said to be mad, living out her time at Vita. Anthropologist Joăo Biehl leads a detective-like journey to know Catarina; to unravel the cryptic, poetic words that are part of the "dictionary" she is compiling; and to trace the complex network of family, medicine, state, and economy in which her abandonment and pathology took form. As Biehl painstakingly relates Catarina's words to a vanished world and elucidates her condition, we learn of subjectivities unmade and remade under economic pressures, pharmaceuticals as moral technologies, a public common sense that lets the unsound and unproductive die, and anthropology's unique power to work through these juxtaposed fields. Vita's methodological innovations, bold fieldwork, and rigorous social theory make it an essential reading for anyone who is grappling with how to understand the conditions of life, thought and ethics in the contemporary world.

Eduardo Cadava (English)

Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion? (Drawing Papers), with Brett Littman (Author) The Drawing Center; First edition (2010)

Leon Golub book cover
Published on the occasion of The Drawing Center's exhibition Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion?, this volume is the first to focus on the late drawings of American artist Leon Golub (1922-2004). Though he was most often noted as a painter, Golub used drawing as a foundational tool in his practice. The drawings published here mark a stylistic and thematic shift from a long-term preoccupation with the atrocities of the external world towards an exploration of the personally revelatory.

In addition to essays by exhibition curator Brett Littman and scholar Eduardo Cadava, the publication features nearly 50 color plates of the artist's oil stick and ink on Bristol board and vellum drawings made between 1999 and 2004. It also showcases Golub's only existent unfinished painting - a chalk sketch of two lions that he started in 2001 but never completed - as well as appendixes of preliminary background drawings and original source material from a variety of wide-circulating periodicals.

The Itinerant Languages of Photography


While photographs have been exchanged, appropriated, and mobilized in different contexts since the 19th century, their movement is now occurring at an unprecedented speed. The Itinerant Languages of Photography examines photography’s capacity to circulate across time and space as well as across other media, such as art, literature, and cinema. Taking its point of departure from Latin American and Spanish photographic archives, the volume offers an alternative history of photography by focusing on the transnational dimension of technological traffic and image production at a time when photography is at the center of current debates on the role of representation, authorship, and reception in a global contemporary culture.

Featuring a wide-range of photographs—images that converse across temporal, political, and cultural boundaries by artists such as Lola and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marcelo Brodsky, Joan Colom, Marc Ferrez, and Joan Fontcuberta—the book argues that the photographic image comes into being only as a consequence of reproduction, displacement, and itinerancy.

Miguel Angel Centeno (Sociology)

Global Capitalism (co-authored with Joseph Cohen) Polity Press, 2010

Global Capitalism book cover
The global financial crisis has challenged many of our most authoritative economic ideologies and policies. After thirty years of reshaping the world to conform to the market, governments and societies are now calling for a retreat to a yet undefined new economic order.

In order to provide a guide to what the twenty-first-century economy might look like, this book revisits the great project of Global Capitalism. What did it actually entail? How far did it go? What were its strengths and failings? By deconstructing its core ideas and examining its empirical record, can we gain clues about how to move forward after the crisis? Miguel Centeno and Joseph Cohen define capitalism as a historically-evolving and socially-constructed institution, rooted in three core economic activities trade, finance and marketing and identify the three key challenges that any new economic system will need to surmount inequality, governance, and environmental sustainability.

This accessible and engaging book will be essential reading for students of economic sociology, and all those interested in the construction of our economic future.

Rubén Gallo (Spanish and Portuguese)

Freud’s Mexico: Into the Wilds of Psychoanalysis (The MIT Press, 2010)

Freud's Mexico book cover
Freud's Mexico is a completely unexpected contribution to Freud studies. Here, Rubén Gallo reveals Freud's previously undisclosed connections to a culture and a psychoanalytic tradition not often associated with him. Freud found a receptive audience among Mexican intellectuals, read Mexican books, collected Mexican antiquities, and dreamed Mexican dreams; his writings bear the traces of a longstanding fascination with the country.

In the Mexico of the 1920s and 1930s, Freud made an impact not only among psychiatrists but also in literary, artistic, and political circles. Gallo writes about a "motley crew" of Freud's readers who devised some of the most original, elaborate, and influential applications of psychoanalytic theory anywhere in the world: the poet Salvador Novo, a gay dandy who used Freud to vindicate marginal sexual identities; the conservative philosopher Samuel Ramos, who diagnosed the collective neuroses afflicting his country; the cosmopolitan poet Octavio Paz, who launched a psychoanalytic inquiry into the origins of Mexican history; and Gregorio Lemercier, a Benedictine monk who put his entire monastery into psychoanalysis.

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann (Art and Archaeology)

Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, (2010)

Arcimboldo book cover
In Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s most famous paintings, grapes, fish, and even the beaks of birds form human hair. A pear stands in for a man’s chin. Citrus fruits sprout from a tree trunk that doubles as a neck. All sorts of natural phenomena come together on canvas and panel to assemble the strange heads and faces that constitute one of Renaissance art’s most striking oeuvres. The first major study in a generation of the artist behind these remarkable paintings, Arcimboldo tells the singular story of their creation.

Drawing on his thirty-five-year engagement with the artist, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann begins with an overview of Arcimboldo’s life and work, exploring the artist’s early years in sixteenth-century Lombardy, his grounding in Leonardesque traditions, and his tenure as a Habsburg court portraitist in Vienna and Prague. Arcimboldo then trains its focus on the celebrated composite heads, approaching them as visual jokes with serious underpinnings—images that poetically display pictorial wit while conveying an allegorical message. In addition to probing the humanistic, literary, and philosophical dimensions of these pieces, Kaufmann explains that they embody their creator’s continuous engagement with nature painting and natural history. He reveals, in fact, that Arcimboldo painted many more nature studies than scholars have realized—a finding that significantly deepens current interpretations of the composite heads.

Demonstrating the previously overlooked importance of these works to natural history and still-life painting, Arcimboldo finally restores the artist’s fantastic visual jokes to their rightful place in the history of both science and art.

Douglas Massey (Sociology)

With Magaly Sánchez R. Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. 2010

Brokered Boundaries book cover
Anti-immigrant sentiment reached a fever pitch after 9/11, but its origins go back much further. Public rhetoric aimed at exposing a so-called invasion of Latino immigrants has been gaining ground for more than three decades—and fueling increasingly restrictive federal immigration policy. Accompanied by a flagging U.S. economy—record-level joblessness, bankruptcy, and income inequality—as well as waning consumer confidence, these conditions signaled one of the most hostile environments for immigrants in recent memory. In Brokered Boundaries, Douglas Massey and Magaly Sánchez untangle the complex political, social, and economic conditions underlying the rise of xenophobia in U.S. society. The book draws on in-depth interviews with Latin American immigrants in metropolitan New York and Philadelphia and—in their own words and images—reveals what life is like for immigrants attempting to integrate in anti-immigrant times.

What do the social categories “Latino” and “American” actually mean to today’s immigrants? Brokered Boundaries analyzes how first- and second-generation immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean navigate these categories and their associated meanings as they make their way through U.S. society. Massey and Sánchez argue that the mythos of immigration, in which newcomers gradually shed their respective languages, beliefs, and cultural practices in favor of a distinctly American way of life, is, in reality, a process of negotiation between new arrivals and native-born citizens. Natives control interactions with outsiders by creating institutional, social, psychological, and spatial mechanisms that delimit immigrants’ access to material resources and even social status. Immigrants construct identities based on how they perceive and respond to these social boundaries. The authors make clear that today’s Latino immigrants are brokering boundaries in the context of unprecedented economic uncertainty, repressive anti-immigrant legislation, and a heightening fear that upward mobility for immigrants translates into downward mobility for the native-born. Despite an absolute decline in Latino immigration, immigration-related statutes have tripled in recent years, including many that further shred the safety net for legal permanent residents as well as the undocumented.

Brokered Boundaries shows that, although Latin American immigrants come from many different countries, their common reception in a hostile social environment produces an emergent Latino identity soon after arrival. During anti-immigrant times, however, the longer immigrants stay in America, the more likely they are to experience discrimination and the less likely they are to identify as Americans.

New Faces in New Places: The Changing Geography of American Immigration, Russell Sage Foundation Publications; 1 edition (2010)

New Faces book cover
Beginning in the 1990s, immigrants to the United States increasingly bypassed traditional gateway cites such as Los Angeles and New York to settle in smaller towns and cities throughout the nation. With immigrant communities popping up in so many new places, questions about ethnic diversity and immigrant assimilation confront more and more Americans. New Faces in New Places, edited by distinguished sociologist Douglas Massey, explores today's geography of immigration and examines the ways in which native-born Americans are dealing with their new neighbors.

Using the latest census data and other population surveys, New Faces in New Places examines the causes and consequences of the shift toward new immigrant destinations. Contributors Mark Leach and Frank Bean examine the growing demand for low-wage labor and lower housing costs that have attracted many immigrants to move beyond the larger cities. Katharine Donato, Charles Tolbert, Alfred Nucci, and Yukio Kawano report that the majority of Mexican immigrants are no longer single male workers but entire families, who are settling in small towns and creating a surge among some rural populations long in decline. Katherine Fennelly shows how opinions about the growing immigrant population in a small Minnesota town are divided along socioeconomic lines among the local inhabitants. The town's leadership and professional elites focus on immigrant contributions to the economic development and the diversification of the community, while working class residents fear new immigrants will bring crime and an increased tax burden to their communities. Helen Marrow reports that many African Americans in the rural south object to Hispanic immigrants benefiting from affirmative action even though they have just arrived in the United States and never experienced historical discrimination. As Douglas Massey argues in his conclusion, many of the towns profiled in this volume are not equipped with the social and economic institutions to help assimilate new immigrants that are available in the traditional immigrant gateways of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And the continual replenishment of the flow of immigrants may adversely affect the nation's perception of how today's newcomers are assimilating relative to previous waves of immigrants.

New Faces in New Places illustrates the many ways that communities across the nation are reacting to the arrival of immigrant newcomers, and suggests that patterns and processes of assimilation in the twenty-first century may be quite different from those of the past. Enriched by perspectives from sociology, anthropology, and geography New Faces in New Places is essential reading for scholars of immigration and all those interested in learning the facts about new faces in new places in America.

Nick Nesbitt (French and Italian)

With Brian Hulse, Sounding the Virtual: Gilles Deleuze and the Theory and Philosophy of Music, Ashgate Publishing Company (2010)

Sounding the Virtual book cover
It is the contention of the editors and contributors of this volume that the work carried out by Gilles Deleuze, where rigorously applied, has the potential to cut through much of the intellectual sedimentation that has settled in the fields of music studies. Deleuze is a vigorous critic of the Western intellectual tradition, calling for a 'philosophy of difference', and, despite its ambitions, he is convinced that Western philosophy fails to truly grasp (or think) difference as such. It is argued that longstanding methods of conceptualizing music are vulnerable to Deleuze's critique. But, as Deleuze himself stresses, more important than merely critiquing established paradigms is developing ways to overcome them, and by using Deleuze's own concepts this collection aims to explore that possibility.

Alejandro Portes (Sociology)

Economic Sociology: A Systematic Inquiry, Princeton University Press (2010)

Economic Sociology book cover
The sociological study of economic activity has witnessed a significant resurgence. Recent texts have chronicled economic sociology's nineteenth-century origins while pointing to the importance of context and power in economic life, yet the field lacks a clear understanding of the role that concepts at different levels of abstraction play in its organization. Economic Sociology fills this critical gap by surveying the current state of the field while advancing a framework for further theoretical development.

Alejandro Portes examines economic sociology's principal assumptions, key explanatory concepts, and selected research sites. He argues that economic activity is embedded in social and cultural relations, but also that power and the unintended consequences of rational purposive action must be factored in when seeking to explain or predict economic behavior. Drawing upon a wealth of examples, Portes identifies three strategic sites of research--the informal economy, ethnic enclaves, and transnational communities--and he eschews grand narratives in favor of mid-range theories that help us understand specific kinds of social action.

The book shows how the meta-assumptions of economic sociology can be transformed, under certain conditions, into testable propositions, and puts forward a theoretical agenda aimed at moving the field out of its present impasse.

Institutions Count Their Role and Significance in Latin American Development

Institutions Count Their Role and Significance in Latin American Development

What leads to national progress? The growing consensus in the social sciences is that neither capital flows, nor the savings rate, nor diffuse values are the key, but that it lies in the quality of a nation’s institutions. This book is the first comparative study of how real institutions affect national development. It seeks to examine and deepen this insight through a systematic study of institutions in five Latin American countries and how they differ within and across nations. Postal systems, stock exchanges, public health services and others were included in the sample, all studied with the same methodology. The country chapters present detailed results of this empirical exercise for each individual country. The introductory chapters present the theoretical framework and research methodology for the full study. The summary results of this ambitious study presented in the concluding chapter draw comparisons across countries and discuss what these results mean for national development in Latin America.

Edward E. Telles (Sociology)

Just Neighbors?: Research on African American and Latino Relations in the United States, Mark Sawyer (Co-Editor), Gaspar Rivera-Salgado (Co-Editor) Russell Sage Foundation (2011)

Just Neighbors book cover
Blacks and Latinos have transformed the American city together these groups now constitute the majority in seven of the ten largest urban areas. Large-scale immigration from Latin America has been changing U.S. racial dynamics for decades, and Latino migration to new destinations is changing the face of the American south. Yet most of what social science has helped us to understand about these groups has been observed primarily in relation to whites not each other. Just Neighbors? challenges the traditional black/white paradigm of American race relations by examining African Americans and Latinos as they relate to each other in the labor market, the public sphere, neighborhoods, and schools. The book shows the influence of race, class, and received stereotypes on black-Latino social interactions and offers insight on how finding common ground may benefit both groups.

From the labor market and political coalitions to community organizing, street culture, and interpersonal encounters, Just Neighbors? analyzes a spectrum of Latino-African American social relations to understand when and how these groups cooperate or compete. Contributor Frank Bean and his co-authors show how the widely held belief that Mexican immigration weakens job prospects for native-born black workers is largely unfounded especially as these groups are rarely in direct competition for jobs. Michael Jones-Correa finds that Latino integration beyond the traditional gateway cities promotes seemingly contradictory feelings: a sense of connectedness between the native minority and the newcomers but also perceptions of competition. Mark Sawyer explores the possibilities for social and political cooperation between the two groups in Los Angeles and finds that lingering stereotypes among both groups, as well as negative attitudes among blacks about immigration, remain powerful but potentially surmountable forces in group relations. Regina Freer and Claudia Sandoval examine how racial and ethnic identity impacts coalition building between Latino and black youth and find that racial pride and a sense of linked fate encourages openness to working across racial lines.

Black and Latino populations have become a majority in the largest U.S. cities, yet their combined demographic dominance has not abated both groups social and economic disadvantage in comparison to whites. Just Neighbors? lays a much-needed foundation for studying social relations between minority groups. This trailblazing book shows that, neither natural allies nor natural adversaries, Latinos and African Americans have a profound potential for coalition-building and mutual cooperation. They may well be stronger together rather than apart.